Race report

Thymen Arensman takes strong and well-deserved 6th place from Vuelta breakaway

Vuelta a España

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

With yesterday’s time trial behind them, the peloton returned to open-road racing today for a tricky 204 kilometre long stage through the Galician hillside. Featuring several uncategorised climbs, continually rolling roads and a kick up to the line – it looked like a tough stage to control and one that would be good for the breakaway.

Immediately from the flag drop the pace was on, with several groups getting a small gap before being reeled back in. The team were present in all of them, before Max Kanter, Robert Power, Michael Storer and Jasha Sütterlin made it into a large move of 26 riders. Their gap grew to over 30 seconds but the pace soon returned at the front of the peloton and they too were brought back. Eventually the elastic snapped after 60 kilometres of action, with Thymen Arensman infiltrating a strong breakaway of seven.

The break worked well together, extending their gap to five minutes before the peloton began to chase. Due to the strong efforts from the peloton, the breakaway had to push equally hard which resulted in the stage being completed ahead of the fastest expected schedule. Over the final climb of the day Arensman’s break had reduced to six but with their gap at two minutes and 20 kilometres to go, the peloton eventually called off the chase and fanned across the road.

On the descent the breakaway split, with Arensman in the second trio on the road, around ten to 15 seconds behind the leading trio. It resulted in an exhilarating finale with Arensman’s group making contact just before the road ramped up to the finish. Arensman gave it his all on the rise to the line but was just unable to follow the explosive attacks in the finale, ending the day with a very creditable sixth place – his second top ten finish at his Grand Tour debut.

Unfortunately due to fatigue after two hard weeks of racing, Martin Salmon dropped from the bunch on one of the many climbs today. After chasing hard to try and regain contact, Martin stepped off the bike and abandoned the race.

Thymen Arensman | Team Sunweb | Vuelta a España

“Today was again a very hard day,” explained Arensman at the finish. “In the beginning we all tried to follow the plan and to go in the break and protect Max and Rob. A big group went and we had four guys in there, which was really good, but the group was too big so it came back. After that, we still had to pay attention as there were some more uphill sections and a group with some really strong guys went that had around 30 seconds. I was in a good position, felt good and jumped to the group alongside someone from Cofidis. We pushed really hard in the break and in the end the peloton couldn’t bring us back. On the last climb of the day it was full gas to the top and I was able to follow the big guys. In the descent I was in the wrong wheel and we had to let go of the three guys but in the end we caught them before the final climb. It was a really hard day and I had pushed a lot of watts so my legs were a bit done on the last climb so I had to let go in the sprint. I think I can be proud and satisfied of my performance once again. I still feel good so I hope somewhere else this week a nice result is possible for the team.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “It was a really hard start today, with a big fight for the breakaway. Unfortunately we lost Martin in that fight who dropped from the bunch, the gap to him grew and he couldn’t come back anymore so had to unfortunately abandon. In the race it was a big fight and at a certain moment we had a group of 26 out front where we had four guys. That move didn’t work out and it came back again before a group of five went clear. Thymen then jumped across with someone else to make it a group of seven really strong guys at the front. They worked really well together but the bunch also started to chase. At the beginning of the final climb the gap was just under two minutes but when they started racing out front it went out again and the teams chasing in the peloton started to lose riders, so it was a race between the now six guys in the break. Unfortunately on the descent Thymen had to let go, where Stybar and Soler attacked, with Wellens making the jump so it was three riders against three. They worked well together and the time gap was always around ten seconds and before the final climb it came back together. It was then a sprint to the line but Thymen didn’t have anything in his legs anymore. We’re in the third week of the race and after such a hard start, to be in the break with those kind of riders, it’s a really big compliment to Thymen. He has gained more experience riding in a final and he can be really proud of the sixth place today. Also as a team during the stage, we did really well to be in all of the moves and we’re looking forward to the coming stages.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 WELLENS Tim Lotto Soudal 4:37:05 100
2 WOODS Michael EF Pro Cycling ,, 40
3 ŠTYBAR Zdeněk Deceuninck - Quick Step ,, 20
6 ARENSMAN Thymen Team Sunweb 0:13 -
35 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team Sunweb 4:07 -
68 POWER Robert Team Sunweb 4:56 -
76 DONOVAN Mark Team Sunweb 5:14 -
93 STORER Michael Team Sunweb 5:37 -
94 KANTER Max Team Sunweb ,, -
DNF SALMON Martin Team Sunweb - -